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September 20, 2014 / 25 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘rebels’

The West’s New Syrian War

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

One day people will ask how the United States and several European countries became involved in mass killings, genocide, corruption, arms smuggling, and the creation of another anti-Western and regionally destabilizing government. Even if a single Western soldier is never sent, the West is on the verge of serious intervention in Syria. The choices are unpalatable and decisions are very tough to make but it appears to be still another in a long history of Western leaps in the dark, not based on a real consideration of the consequences.

At least people should be more aware of the dangers. As I entitled a previous book on Iran (Paved with Good Intentions), the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. People are dying and suffering in Syria. That’s true. But will this make more people or fewer people die and suffer?

So now we are seeing the trial balloons rise. As the Bashar al-Assad regime proves to be holding on—but not recapturing the country or winning the war—the West is panicked into sending aid to the rebels.  In fact, the government is merely holding the northwest area (where the ruling Alawite group lives), the region along the Lebanese border (with Hizbollah’s help), Damascus (where the best troops are based and there is a favorable strategic situation in the army holding the high ground), and part of Aleppo. It seems that U.S. decision makers are panicking over these relatively small gains. If the Syrian army plus Hizbollah tries to advance too far it will stretch its resources then and face a successful rebel counteroffensive.

Understandably, the opposition is demanding arms. If the opposition did not consist mostly of al-Qaida, the Salafists, and the Muslim Brotherhood, that would be a good idea perhaps. But since the opposition is overwhelmingly radical—even the official “moderate” opposition politicians are mostly Muslim Brotherhood—this is a tragedy in which the West does not have a great incentive to say “yes.”

President Barack Obama is said to be close to sending weapons to carefully chosen rebel units who are moderates. Now, pay close attention here. The Western options for giving assistance are:

The Syrian Islamic Liberation Front. This is Muslim Brotherhood type people including, most importantly, the Farouk Brigades from the Homs area and Aleppo’s Tawhid Brigade. Around 50-60,000 fighters in total who are autonomous.

Do you want to give arms to them? Weapons that might soon end up in the hands of (other) terrorists? Weapons to be turned against not only Israel, but Jordan, Saudi Arabia, U.S. diplomats, and who knows who else?

Or perhaps you like the Syrian Islamic Front (SIF), an alliance of more hardline Islamist forces, including Ahrar al-Sham from the north.  Ahrar al-Sham is probably around 15,000 fighters. The SIF as a whole probably around 25,000.   These people are Salafists meaning that the Brotherhood is too moderate for them. They are the kind of people who attack churches in Egypt, who want to wage jihad alongside Hamas, and so on.

Do you want to arm them so they can establish another Sharia state?

How about Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda franchise with around 6,000 fighters and reportedly the fastest growing militia.

Want to give guns to those who committed the September 11, 2001, attacks and the Benghazi attack? Of course not! You want the Free Syrian Army (FSA), headed by the untested General Salim Idris, who Senator John McCain met with. Now those are moderates who, after all, are just led by former officers in the repressive, historically anti-American Syrian army. And the FSA is just not a serious factor in military terms.

The West will say it supports the FSA; the FSA will be pushed aside by an Islamist regime if it wins, its Western-supplied weapons seized even during the course of the war. Moderates–even if we define radical Arab nationalists as moderates–don’t have the troops on the ground. It’s too late to organize and train a moderate force now. That should have been done two years ago.

On the political level, U.S. pressure failed to force the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated exile leadership to add the real political moderates! Even as financial aid is being (temporarily?) withheld the “official” opposition won’t expand its base. How about withholding all money and aid until they yield or choosing a new official leadership?  If the United States can’t stop–or doesn’t want to–the Brotherhood from dominating an exile leadership how is it ever going to do after a victory in the civil war?

UN Official: Syrian Army Asked IDF Not to Hit its Tanks in the Golan

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

The blogger Nabil Abi Saab of UN Report on Saturday revealed a note that, according to diplomats, was submitted to the Security Council on Friday, 7 June 2013, by Herve Ladsous, UN Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations.

This is a full transcription of the note:

Note on developments in UNDOF

1. On the morning of 6 June, heavy clashes between the Arab Armed Forces (SAAF) and armed members of the opposition occurred in the area of separation, particularly in the vicinity of Quneitra and Qataniyah near the Bravo Gate (the entry point on the Bravo side to and from the Israeli-occupied Golan, maintained by Syrian authorities). UNDOF also reported shelling in the vicinity of Khan Arnabeh, Al Samdaniyah and Trunji, and mortar fire in the United Nations Observation Post 52, in the area of separation. Tank shells and mortars impacted in the vicinity of United Nations Position 60A. As a result of the fighting, several impacts of indirect mortar and heavy-machine gun fire hit the UNDOF Logistic Base, Camp Ziouani, located on the Alpha side (Israeli-occupied Golan). Two UNDOF personnel at Camp Ziouani sustained minor injuries and are in stable condition. UNDOF is currently assessing the extent of the damage to the facility. During the fighting UNDOF personnel at United Nations Positions 22, 25, 27 and 60 in the area of separation took shelter in their positions. UNDOF personnel at the Charlie Gate (on the ceasefire line and manned by UNDOF) relocated temporarily to the Alpha side.

2. During the clashes, SAAF reinforced its presence in the area of separation with five main battle tanks and five armoured personnel carriers, moving in the direction of Quneitra. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) informed the UNDOF Force Commander that should the movement of SAAF tanks continue, the IDF would take action. Subsequently, the UNDOF Force Commander conveyed the message to the Senior Syrian Arab Delegate (SSAD), UNDOF’s main interlocutor on the Bravo side. The SSAD informed the UNDOF Force Commander that the presence of the tanks was solely for the purpose of fighting the armed members of the opposition and asked that the IDF not take action. Also, during the fighting, armed members of the opposition took control temporarily of the Bravo Gate. After several hours of Clashes between the SAAF and the armed members of the opposition, the SAAF regained control of the Bravo Gate and fighting in the area had subsided. Currently, four main battle tanks and three armoured personnel carriers remain in the area of separation, in violation of the Disengagement Agreement.

3. The SSAD informed UNDOF that SSAD Liaison Officers at the Bravo Gate suffered fatalities. The Government of Israel Liaison Officer informed UNDOF that the IDF had provided emergency medical treatment to a total of 16 armed members of the opposition, all of whom had been returned to the Bravo side. UNDOF does not have any additional information on casualties or fatalities among SAAF or armed members of the opposition.

4. Throughout the fighting, the UNDOF Force Commander remained in contact with both sides in an effort to prevent an escalation of the situation across the ceasefire line, and to ensure the safety and security of United Nations personnel.

5. As stated by the Secretary – General, further to the announced decision by the Government of Austria to withdraw its contingent from UNDOF, the United Nations is approaching Member States in an effort to identify urgently new contributors or additional contributions to UNDOF.

DPKO / 6 June 2013

Israel Demands UN Meet Their Obligations on the Golan

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Following the Syrian Rebel attack on the UN base at Quneitra on Thursday, that left a Philippine and an Indian Observer injured, Austria announced they are pulling out their UN Observers from the Golan mission. The pullout will happen within the month.

The Austrian Observers make up more than a third of the contingent, and have been one of the more important countries in the mission. Japan and Croatia already pulled out their people months ago. The UN is holding an emergency meeting on Friday to find replacement troops. Fiji said they might send troops.

Israel pointed out that, once again, the UN has proven unable to fulfill their mission.

Israel thanked the Austrians for their years of service as peacekeepers, but expressed regret at the decisions, and hoped that the border situation won’t escalate further as a result. Israel added that they expect the UN to meet their obligations, as per UN Security Council Resolution 350.

If the UN fails on the Golan, the buffer zone between Israel and Syria will disappear, and Israel could easily find themselves in a situation where they may need to fight the rebels, or move troops into the buffer zone on the Syrian side, something Israel does not want to have to do.

Minister Yuval Steinintz added, that the lesson is very clear, “In any peace agreement, Israel cannot rely on international forces, but only on IDF soldiers.” He added that South Lebanon, under the UN’s watch, now has 40,000 missiles embedded there pointed at Israel. The UN did nothing to stop it.

The UNDOF troops have been in place on the Golan since May 31, 1974, following the decision of UN Security Council Resolution 350. The observers were put into place as a result of Syria trying to recapture the Golan in 1973, after losing it in 1967, and following the increase in border attacks from Syria starting in March 1974.

Syria-Israel Border Crossing Overrun by Rebels

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

The Syrian side of the border crossing near the Syrian town of Quneitra has been captured by the rebels after heavy fighting Thursday.

Quneitra is the only border crossing between Israel and Syria, and this is the first time it has been captured by the rebels since the fighting began in early 2011.

The IDF has increased its readiness, and ordered local farmers to stay away from their land near the border.

Over the past few months it has been rumored that Al Qaida forces that joined the rebels are dominating the southern part of Syria, nearest Israel. Recently there have been fire exchanges between the IDF and sources on the Syrian side.

A UN Peacekeeper was injured when a mortar landed in the UN base, on the Syrian side of the crossing.

Syrian Rebels Demand Hezbollah’s Expulsion

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

In an interview on Tuesday, Salim Idris, the head of the Syrian rebel army, called on Lebanon’s president Michel Suleiman, the Arab League, and the UN to remove Hezbollah from Syria within 24 hours.

Idris threatened that if Hezbollah is not gone within 24 hours, their men would be hunted down wherever they are.

Idris said that Suleiman is responsible for Hezbollah’s activities.

It was also recently reported that Iran, despite the sanction’s against it, has recently supplied Syria with between $3 billion to $7 billion dollars in loans and lines of credit.

Iran supports Syria and Hezbollah.

Support the Syrian Rebels?

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Washington Post article today, “Assad forces gaining ground in Syria” by Liz Sly, argues that recent events suggest that the Assad regime is not just surviving but has gone on the offensive. Drawing on local analysts, she finds that in the civil war, “there is little doubt that the pendulum is now swinging in favor of Assad … bolstered by a new strategy, the support of Iran and Russia and the assistance of fighters with Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement.”

If this in fact be the case, then, Western governments should respond by helping the rebels to prevent Assad from crushing them.

This advice is consistent with my argument (in an article titled “Support Assad” published just a month ago, when Assad appeared to be going down) that the West should prevent either side in the civil war from emerging victorious by “helping whichever side is losing, so as to prolong their conflict.”

This policy recommendation of “helping whichever side is losing” sounds odd, I admit, but it is strategic.

Originally published at DanielPipes.org and The National Review, Online, May 11, 2013.

Syrian Rebels Take 4 UN Peacekeepers Prisoner

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Syrian Rebels are holding four UN peacekeepers prisoner. The four Filipino peacekeepers were on the Golan Heights to monitor the ceasefire line between Syria and Israel.

The Rebels claim they are holding them, to keep them safe.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/syrian-rebels-take-4-un-peacekeepers-prisoner/2013/05/07/

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